Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Edel Revealed My Weakness (And Thank God for Twitter)

I am among the elite but happy few who went to the Edel Gathering this weekend. And I hate to admit it...but oh, y'all, it was hard

I really identified with what Nell said in her blogpost "I felt left out voluntarily. I missed opportunities to really meet everyone." That's exactly what I felt like: I knew I wasn't having the same amazing experience as everyone else, but I knew it was my fault, not anyone else's. I kept looking at everyone else and wondering, "how do they know so many people?" 

That I didn't have THE BEST TIME EVAH is hard to admit. Every time I heard one of the speakers talk about targeting our isolation as mothers, that the point of this event was to break down barriers, I knew the message was for me - but I just couldn't figure out how to actually do that. I knew these were my people, that I should be eating this up - but I couldn't. I was worried about Zuzu, I hated leaving her, and while everyone else looked so relaxed having left their no-doubt huge families, I was crazily checking my phone over my one 21mo that was a few blocks away.

Despite my own crazy neuroses, I had some great experiences. The talks were really fantastic, and I'm so glad I got to see Kelly do the most amazing rap ever. I got up the courage to talk to Crystal, who was very sweet, and I wanted to make Nell my BFF because she was so calm and her baby so lovely. Also, Hallie recognized me, so I'm pretty sure she studied everyone's blog ahead of time, and I got a blurry selfie with Jen (my only picture of the entire weekend - also a clue that I am freaking out). I had several other awkward moments: preeeetty sure I told Haley that people from north Florida were 'psycho,' which is normal Florida trash-talking silliness for me, but I realized was probably really insulting to her, so y'know, go me! Also, my only ability to talk to Jenny? Handing her a Sofie that had been lost and then blurting out that when I took my 2mo to Italy, the Italian women were all up in my boobs.  Very classy. Oh - in case you were wondering, Heather has an intense New York accent! Meeting her and hearing her voice forever changes how I read her blog (in a totally good way). 

My one claim to fame is that Marion asked me to sing karaoke with her. My other claim to fame? I SAID NO because I apparently have serious problems.

The other thing that allowed this crazy introvert actually break out? Twitter. I love Twitter, and through Twitter, I felt like I was part of the event still - I was tweeting under the #edel14 hashtag, and reading others tweets, and felt like I was getting to know certain people better. I made a ton of new connections this way, and it saved me from feeling 'out of touch' with the Conference, even though I was sitting right there. Through my paralyzing fear, I could still reach out - and so many reached back. It's why I'll never really give up on technology and live in a yurt (although the thought is never far from my mind).

The best part of this entire experience was probably that, as I sobbingly confessed all this to my husband in the middle of the Austin airport on Sunday, apologizing for making us spend so much money on a conference I didn't even make the most of, he looked at me very kindly and simply said "well you'll have to go every year until you have the experience that you need." Real love, ladies and gentlemen. I'm really glad I DIDN'T marry a normal person, who would've sputtered "I spent how much money to get you and me and the baby to Austin in the middle of the heat wave from HELL, and now you're telling me you didn't make the most of it????" 

So yes, Edel revealed my crucial weakness: that just when I am so close to feeling the love of Christ, I am too afraid to come close enough to actually let Him touch me. I want so badly to have a life-giving community, but I am so nervous that it's just not right for me right now - that I can't have it because I'm still nursing Zuzu and she never really sleeps; because I work; because it's too big of a time commitment; because I don't actually have anything in common, with anyone, anywhere. I know these are lies, and now that I see what a big impact they have on me, I'm hoping to spend some real time combatting them. Next year, I hope I will have invested in some online - and real life! - friendships, and that I'll have a very different experience. At least, you have it in writing that I promise I'll try! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Beauty and the Mother

Greetings from Aruba, friends.

Sunset last night

Tom, Jen, the babe, and I all jetted off yesterday after a weekend of hard work at the Steubenville Youth Conference in Orlando, FL. It was a longer flight than I realized (4 hours), but I guess that's what happens when you're 19 miles north of the Venezuelan coast. Quick jaunt to Caracas, anyone?

We got here around 3:30pm yesterday, and by 4pm, were in our suits, exploring the grounds of the hotel. Zuzu stared at exotic birds and chased after several iguanas - I guess my Florida girl has no fear of reptiles. We hung out at the pool for a while, before having dinner and then going for a post-dinner ocean swim. Why not? We're on vacation.

Loveliness courtesy of Jen

I grabbed Jen's camera and started snapping away - images of Jen, Zuzu, and Tom frolicking by the ocean. Passerbys smiled indulgently, and I realized the scene looked the opposite of what it was: I was the friend taking pictures of the family. But as I've reflected with Jen before, I like it better taking pictures of her with Tom and Zuzu - because they look like what I think a family should look like. For me, Jen looks what a young mom should look like: her silhouette is slender, no pouching tummy, or big thighs. The images with her in them, silhouetted against that Aruba sunset, were almost like make-believe for me: this is what my family should look like. 

Jen and Zuzu have a kiss

But then Zuzu asked me to get into the water (which I'm not going to do with Jen's very nice DSLR camera). And I knew Jen or Tom would take the camera and then take pics of me, and they wouldn't look the way I think they should look. I thought about all the pictures of my mom and I from when I was young, and I revisit them again and again because I think she was (and is) so beautiful, so young, so my mother. But would I love my mother any less if she looked any differently? I love my mother for who she is, for who she's always been: she's beautiful because she loves me. Zuzu thinks I'm beautiful because I love her - love refines, love makes beautiful. 


I can choose to show her that I believe in the lies of the world: that only certain people deserve to have their pictures taken, that we should be ashamed of bodies that are different, that fear should motivate how we feel about ourselves. I can show her that there should be a division between women who 'fit' the stereotype and those who don't, I can use phrases like 'real women' to devalue others' bodies, striking back in my self-consciousness by declaring thin women to be 'fake.' 

Or - and this is a big or - or I could choose to show her what God believes about beauty. That beauty, although it exists as a concept, objectively, is also something that exists in actions, in our souls, in who we strive to be. I create beauty, and I am beautiful, in relation to how much I love. 



I still believe Zuzu will look at these pictures when she's older and think I am beautiful. I will work to convince myself of this too; to conform my mind to the mind of Christ. To believe that beauty is about who we are as much as what we look like. 


Be beautiful, be loving, be Christ to your family today - and take some pictures to remember it all.